The truth about what really happened at the San Carlos Seminary between June 10-13, 2005 is coming out at the Senate investigations into the Garci wiretapping scandal. No matter how hard Juan Ponce Enrile and Dick Gordon tried, the overwhelming preponderance of eyewitness testimonies of many well known persons there present, including Bishop Teodoro Bacani, Senator Sergio Osmena, Oscar Orbos, Mayor Jejomar Binay, and Atty. Luis Sison seemed to win the day. For one thing, the claims that Vidal Doble was being "illegally detained" at San Carlos Seminary by former NBI Deputy Director Samuel Ong are now completely unbelievable (if they weren't already before!) because of the mass of corroborating details from all these witnesses. What was really happening was that Sammy Ong, who claimed to have the Mother of all Tapes (actually four in number) given to him by Vidal Doble, was about to hold a press conference in which he would reveal everything about the scandal that had been precipitated a few days before on June 6, when Press Sec. Ignacio Bunye first revealed the Garci wiretappings. They were seeking sanctuary in the "Bahay Pari" (House of the Priests) of San Carlos, when the place was surrounded by heavily armed units of the Armed Forces, police, and the Intelligence Services. Now according to Atty. Luis Sison, who was also present during the entire three day incident, there came a point in time when Bishop Soc Villegas came to pick up Vidal Doble and bring him to General Abu at Camp Aguinaldo, where he said Doble's wife and children were waiting to see him. Doble folded and the press conference was off because of the pressure of his family being fetched all the way from Kidapawan City by Palace trouble shooter and the niece of Gaudencio Cardinal Rosales, (a Ms. Medy Poblador). They were then given a deadline to leave by 7 pm June 13. Sison relates how Atty. Samuel Ong, having no other sanctuary to run to, asked Bishop Soc Villegas for just a one hour extension. The good bishop is said to have coldly looked around the room and declared, "You will be ALL out of here by 7 o'clock!!" At that point, Sison described Bishop Soc Villegas "MERCILESS." Another eyewitness, a Mr. Dan or Don Remo said that he gave up being a Catholic on that very evening. Atty. Sison also said that when he tried to explain to Bishop Soc Villegas that Sammy Ong truly feared for his life (since the Seminary was surrounded by reported sharpshooters and several armed agents had actually entered the Seminary and ended up leaving their car full of firearms on the grounds), whereupon he says the Bishop made a big show of making a phone call to the President to assure her there was no need for that and to call off any "sharpshooters."
The role played by Church personalities in that whole incident at San Carlos Seminary really needs more airing and examination. There are, I believe, CRIMINAL liabilities involved here on the part of persons like Soc Villegas and his boss, Gaudencio Rosales. (Never mind the MORAL questions, which they may answer to whatever god it is they actually pray to!)
JAMBY'S THREE EXCELLENT QUESTIONS: I hate to admit it because I deeply disagree with her leftist politics, but today Senator Jamby Madrigal got a lot of points from me for asking three excellent questions, two techie questions and one psychological during the Senate's Wiretapping hearings.
The first was about the possibility that the telecomm firm's data bases are being used for marketing efforts either by the firms themselves or unscrupulous employees who are selling them to outside marketers. Jamby herself is apparently being beseiged by offers of land, seminars, cars, houses, etc. But I think it is universal experience, much detested and ought to be more closed regulated and prevented.
The next was a brilliant technical question (which I suspect was suggested to her by former Sen. Serge Osmeña) directed at Mon Isberto of Smart and Rudy Salalima of Globe. She asked the two telecomm representatives if they had the capability to do TRIANGULATION which is a process widely used in KIDNAPPING investigations when law enforcement works with telecomm service providers. In a typical case, someone is kidnapped and the kidnappers use his cell phone to contact relatives in order to demand the ransom. Because the mobile phone networks use a collection of cellular base stations to service their customers, the distance of a given cell phone unit to nearby cell sites can be determined from the signal strength received from it when it initiates a call or sends a text message. Thus, if the distances from at least three nearby cell sites can be found, then the location of the cell phone can be uniquely found. Without going into the mathematics, the location of the sending unit is at the intersection of three circles, one each centered at the known geographical locations of the base stations, and each having a radius equal to the distance to the unit as measured from the received signal strength. With data from only two base stations, it is even possible to get two locations at one of which the cell phone is likely to be. I think most sophisticated kidnappers probably know about these techniques and so will make ransom calls while on the move, though determined law enforcers could still get an idea of velocity and direction if they work fast enough.
I think this question of Jamby's really broke the silly logjam during the hearing over whether or not the telecomms participate in wiretapping activities or have the capabilities to assist external wiretapping agents. It is undeniable that they do in the case of kidnapping cases and what Jamby really segued into was Serge Osmena (attending as a resource person) who testified to the fact that in 1999, the US Government already donated to the Philippine Government sophisticated wiretapping equipment for GSM networks. I wrote about this item here at Philippine Commentary in 2005, noting that with the knowledge of certain codes built into every customer SIM Card, it is possible to do "on-air, off-network" wiretapping because then the digital transmissions can be decrypted. I think that is indeed how it was done. In the case of the President and Garci's conversations, someone working within the Smart Telecommunications was splitting the digital signal stream to and from the target cellphones and sending a copy of it to the ISAFP Project Lighthouse GSM Decryptors, which were then being pumped into the Monitoring/Recording cellphones. In effect the GSM decryptors CLONED the target phones so they could receive and decode the arriving digital bitstreams. All Doble and his men did was actually to monitor the Nokia 3600 model units that were used as clones, to download their memories after recording their conversations, and to make tapes and CDs for their superiors to review. Indeed, that is how Vidal Doble's voice got onto the tapes, announcing time, date and conversation participants, which also by the way is the best proof that HE, Vidal Doble made those recordings!
Jamby's second question was psychological and directed at Mrs. Arlene Doble, the estranged first wife (of which there are allegedly "three" in Doble's colorful life, including live in partner Joyce Andaya and girlfriend Mayet Santos). Jamby asked her if she still loved Vidal Doble, and in a series of gentle but eventually too painful, questions, she got her to admit that perhaps it was her anger that was causing her not to back up Doble's testimony by denying any pressure had been put on her. Biazon and Jamby herself relented and ended the line of inquiry just as Arlene Doble seemed to about to burst into tears.
But it shows Jamby Madrigal can ask "senatorial" quality questions.
Senate President Manny Villar made a short but quite meaningful appearance to make a simple but forthright statement that the Chief Executive Officers of Smart and Globe MUST make the statement under oath in the Senate that they did not have anything to do with the illegal wiretapping operations of the Isafp, and to pledge and reassure the public that they would never participate in such activities. I think he was right to make this demand, because it is really part of the Senate recovering its rightful place in the Government, to defend the right of Congress to information and to be respected by all with at least their attendance to an invitation by the Upper House. He reminds sternly that they have subpoena power over such private individuals, though I think how the telecomms are actually treated in this matter will separate the patriots from the mendicant and the beholden--both in the Senate and the Media.
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